Who is Liable in a California Big Rig Accident?

Accidents involving large commercial trucks can be some of the most devastating and catastrophic crashes.  This is not surprising given the size difference between a fully-loaded eighteen wheeler and an average passenger vehicle.  When a driver of a small passenger vehicle is involved in a collision with a large commercial truck, oftentimes referred to as a tractor trailer, big rig, semi, or eighteen wheeler, the harm caused to the driver or any passengers can be severe and even fatal. 

If you are involved in a truck accident, determining who might be responsible for your injuries can be extremely difficult.  The commercial trucking industry includes a wide range of different players, meaning more than one individual or entity may be liable.  Some of the parties that might be liable for your injuries and other damages include:

  • The Truck Driver.  If the truck driver’s negligence was the cause of the accident, they might be the party who is at-fault for your injuries.  Many truck drivers who work on a contract basis carry their own insurance policies, but even if they do not have their own insurance, they can still be held liable for your damages.
  • The Driver’s Employer. In many instances, the truck driver’s employer can also be responsible for injuries and damages that occurred in an accident. An employer’s liability is based on a theory of vicarious liability. Accordingly, under California law, trucking companies are required to carry insurance.
    The Truck Owner. In some cases, the truck driver owns the truck, but if the truck’s owner is a separate individual, they too can be held liable in the event of an accident. Truck owners are required to carry insurance in California whether they drive the truck or not. 
  • The Trailer Owner. There are some cases where the truck driver does not own the trailer, or the owner of the trailer might be different than the tractor owner. If the trailer is not properly attached because there is an equipment malfunction or the lights and signals aren’t working, and an accident occurs, the trailer owner can be a responsible party.
  • Any Parties Who are Responsible for Maintenance and Upkeep of the Truck. If those who are responsible for making sure that the truck is functioning properly and that it has working brakes, signals, and tires, but they fail to perform appropriate maintenance, they can also be held liable.
  • The Cargo Supplier. The individual or entity that supplies the truck’s cargo can also be a responsible party if the cargo falls out or off of the truck causing a crash.
  • Another Driver of a Vehicle Involved in the Accident. There may be multiple vehicles involved in an accident involving a large truck. If another passenger vehicle or other motorized vehicle was speeding or cuts off another vehicle and contributes to your accident, they can also be held liable for their negligence.
  • Other Outside Parties. In some instances, other parties such as a federal or state government entity or agency are responsible for a truck accident. This might be the case if the roadway conditions or inadequate lighting caused or contributed to a crash.
  • When seeking compensation for your damages that are the result of a truck accident, it is possible that any or all of these individuals or entities might be responsible.  An experienced Rancho Cucamonga truck accident lawyer can help guide you through the complicated process of determining who is liable and can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.

    Call the Dedicated and Knowledgeable Personal Injury Attorneys at the Law Offices of Matthew L. Taylor Today
    If you or someone you love has sustained injuries in an accident involving a large commercial truck, it is imperative that you contact an experienced personal injury lawyer right away.  Call attorney Matthew L. Taylor today at (909) 989-7774 to schedule your free consultation. 

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    Matthew L. Taylor

    Licensed since 1995

    Member at firm Law Offices of Matthew Taylor

    Matthew L. Taylor

    Licensed since 1995

    Member at firm Law Offices of Matthew Taylor